Stealing is the best form of teaching

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Teachers steal. We are unapologetic thieves. We are so hungry for the very best things for our students, that we will unabashedly take others ideas, use them, twist them, break them into pieces and parts, and USE USE USE them!

No idea, worksheet, or neumonic is safe. But the good news is there is honor amoung our guild of bandits. We all admitt it and thank our lucky stars that  resources are things we should all share. Most teachers fall over themselves to help others. There is a reason why your average teacher has three hundred free tote bags: because they need everyone of them to stuff with good ideas from other people!

So, recently, when it was time to teach conclusion paragraphs, I did what all good teachers do: I Googled it! At this time we are using Lucy Calkins Writer’s Workshop,  but I just wasn’t feelin’ the current lesson on it, so I did a search and found this wonderful post on the topic,.

I was looking for one of those great anchor charts that would let me bang out the instruction with the kids in ten minutes (per Lucy) and I had many choices. But  I was so happy when I found Two Writting Teachers. This blog has a special mission:

Two Writing Teachers is a cooperative blog that unites a community of teachers through the practice of writing while inspiring and guiding the teaching of a writing workshop approach. It is our hope teachers will create and lead robust writing workshops, which will aid in the development of engaged and literate citizens. 

I got giddy just reading this. Long story short, they provided a perfect post on constructing conclusions for the unit of study I was in. They provided this great anchor:

anchor

So after finding this great resource, all I to do was tweak it a bit.

I left out the chapter preview bit as it didn’t fit our current assignmnet.

Here’s how I would teach it:

“Today I am going to let you see how good writers create conclusion paragraphs”

First they read my example. We are writing about  civil rights in a historical context, so I start with an example that is familiar and part of our mentor texts:

Introduction Paragraph

The story of Rosa Parks is familiar. Rosa became a hero for what seems like a very small action but at the time was a huge risk for an African American person: deciding to refuse giving up her seat to a white person. She took a stand,was sent to jail, and became an inspiration for many people in the civil rights movement.

Now read my conclusion paragraph:

Conclusion.

Rosa Parks was a Civil Rights hero. She took actions that were not easy or always safe for African Americans at this time. She took action that then got her arrested, but she became famous and an inspiration. I have to wonder, if I were her, if I could have been so brave? If that were you, would you be able to stand up to a white person during segregation? I am glad Rosa showed us that one person could make a difference!

I let students answer these questions

How is the conclusion like the introduction? List two specific ways:
Circle a sentence in the introduction and in the conclusion  that say the same thing,  but in a different way.
What was different about the paragraphs? List two examples.

After that I have kids pair up and and complete this activity in like two minutes:

A good way to make a conclusion effective is to connect it to today.

With a partner, write a sentence that would do that for this topic.

Possible example

Movements likie Black Lives matter could have never happened without the brave actions of people like Rosa Parks.

I then review answers, and restate the anchor chart points and release them to compse.  Lucy would say I was wasting time by having them pair and answer and reviewing and she may be right. I’ll bank on letting my kids have time to process and think before  I have them finish the process.

And here is the handout.

Have fun teaching!

 

 

 

Activity: Civil Rights Story Book Reviews

 

Teaching social justice, civil rights, and history is the best part of my job. I also love primary sources, thick high level texts, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sound of my own voice droning on and on about these topics. Surprise: my students DO NOT love it!
So I look for books that can keep me from boring people to death. Recently we were looking at issues of school segregation. For years I have had kids analyze the painting   The Problem we all Live With as a jumping off point. There is great supporting material, but it tended to be me doing too much pontificating so I wanted to put the learning in the kids hands.  I needed something super accessible and redaily availible to achiebe this goal.

 

Using picture or non-fiction story books to teach is as old as the genre itself. I have a math curriculum that invokes it to teach a number of math concepts. One of my favorites is A Remainder of One. Kids get a graphic representation of the concepts and even the steps involved in a relatively complex structure. But ,when dealing with hard historic,  and social topics, it can be difficult to find texts that accomplish similar instructional goals.

Seperate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh  may be one of my favorite all time civil rights picture books.  Its a bit long for a read a loud, but I have seldom seen the issues of race, segregation, and the democratic process spelled out better for learners. It met all of my criteria for a useful teaching tool!

Good news: Finding good books on teaching civil rights is easier than ever and there are so many good places to find books  on civil rights and social justice topics, but there are times the titles I buy, borrow or appropriate don’t have all the things I need. Recently, I came up with  what I wanted students to be able to connect or identify with when using picture books.  So I read the book and ask myself:

“Does this Book Contain?”

  • Images of Oppression:
  • Images of Difference
  • Obvious  Questions
  • Denial of Legal Rights
  • Acts of Resistance
  • Hard Facts
  • A Realistic Ending

 

If they do, then I know I have a pretty good teaching tool.

So here’s how I’d teach it

  • I would draw on prior knowledge regarding the Civil Rights movement. Kids could do a turn and talk, then put what they know on post its. I would have them put them up where we could all see it. 
  • I’d ask how we could sort: people, places, events, actions, vocabulary, whatever…
  • I’d commend them on their knowledge and tell them that they are going to help decide if the books we have in class will be effective to learn about this very big topic.

Now it is time for a  vocabulary sort . Use this link to find the document. 

A vocabulary or content sort can be sorting words into groups, but you can also match definitions or concepts with words or phrases.  I keep everything in ziplock baggies, pass them out to small groups, and give them five minutes for the matching.

Today I want you to look through the baggies and match words or phrases with definitions.

  • When the groups are done I just call on kids and see if we have the ideas matched with the correct terms.
  • In pairs, students will select books and use sticky notes to indicate where they find evidene from the vocab sort done earlier.

This takes a while. Kids have to read the books, look for evidence of the criteria and mark them with stickies. It can also be done with a worksheet, but I haven’t developed one for this activity yet.

  • To wrap up, I do a simple share of what they found and I ask them why they think having these criteria help indicate if the story is worthwhile or not.

Today we looked at some pretty big ideas like Oprresion  and images of difference. We found out that effective stories about strugglles for civil rights include realistic images, language and ideas. We will use these criteria in creating projects in coming days.

I’ll save the projects for an upcoming post. Meanwhile:

Happy Teaching!